In or out of sync? Political circles buzzing with BJP, LJP question

Updated on Oct 07, 2020 07:01 AM IST

When Lok Janshakti Party (LJP) leader Chirag Paswan welcomed his latest recruit Rajendra Singh into the party on Tuesday, he set off a fresh round of speculation about the reality of his split with the National Democratic Alliance (NDA) in Bihar.

Lok Janshakti Party (LJP) leader Chirag Paswan welcomed his latest recruit Rajendra Singh(ANI photo)
Lok Janshakti Party (LJP) leader Chirag Paswan welcomed his latest recruit Rajendra Singh(ANI photo)
Hindustan Times, New Delhi | BySunetra Choudhury

When Lok Janshakti Party (LJP) leader Chirag Paswan welcomed his latest recruit Rajendra Singh into the party on Tuesday, he set off a fresh round of speculation about the reality of his split with the National Democratic Alliance (NDA) in Bihar. Singh, 53, has been with the Bhartiya Janata Party (BJP) for decades and fought the last elections from Dinara on a BJP ticket. Unlike other turncoats, the former BJP vice-president has nothing but praise for his former party.

“I don’t want to go into why I joined the LJP. I want to just say that Amit Shah continues to be my leader and my party and my personal belief are two different things. I continue to believe in the Ram Temple and everything that the BJP stands for,’’ he said.

Singh isn’t the only person with strong BJP connections now hoping to figure in the LJP’s list of 143 candidates who will fight against Nitish Kumar’s Janata Dal (United), or JD (U). There are others like him waiting to contest on the LJP ticket. While the official position of the LJP is that they are all drawn to the party’s successful “Bihari First” campaign, this is fuelling the theory that the BJP encouraged the LJP to fight against the JD (U).

LJP’s Khagaria MP Mehboob Ali Kaiser said he objected to the decision to oppose Nitish Kumar. “I thought we should contest as NDA in all its sanctity and not side with one part of the NDA (the BJP) and oppose another {the JD (U)}. That doesn’t send a good signal. But we authorised Chirag Paswan to take the best decision for the party.”

When asked about whether his party and the BJP have an understanding, he said: “Isn’t it now in the open? We have said that we will support the BJP but not JD (U).’’ Incidentally, Kaiser’s son Yusuf Salahuddin has quit the LJP for the Rashtirya Janata Dal (RJD).

“It’s totally wrong to say that, and it is all rumour mongering and speculation,’’ said BJP’s general secretary in-charge of Bihar, Bhupender Yadav. “We tried to keep Chirag Paswan in the NDA but he decided to go the other way. We have also forbidden him from using PM’s images. We will win 3/4th of the seats in the state.’’

Also Read | Chirag Paswan makes important announcement as CM Nitish Kumar puts up united front with BJP

But the younger Paswan isn’t doing anything to quell those rumours. When contacted by HT, he said that he couldn’t speak as he is in hospital with his ailing father Ram Vilas Paswan, but he did tweet that the BJP and the LJP would form the next government in the state.

“If the Congress and the Shiv Sena can form government, then anything can happen but it’s not happening here,’’ said KC Tyagi, JD (U) leader and former MP. “It’s just rumour-mongering and we don’t have to refute it but as you will see soon enough, BJP leaders will be coming to campaign in JD (U) seats against the LJP.’’

Tyagi said that this would stop speculation that the BJP is trying to limit the JD (U)’s performance, aiming to curb the number of seats it wins. The LJP and the JD (U) have never fought an election together, but with this move, Paswan has added yet another unknown element to the always-surprising Bihar polls.

Analysts said the complex equations could benefit the BJP.

“If they wanted to reduce anti-incumbency, then the BJP had to distance itself from JD (U). However, it was a tightrope since they didn’t want JD (U) changing its alliance partners altogether. I won’t be surprised if the BJP does manage to transfer its votes to LJP in JD (U) constituencies. You can expect some changes post-poll too,” said DM Diwakar, former director of AN Sinha Institute of Social Studies.

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